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School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education

Lesson Title
: Lincoln, an Unlikely Hero

Date : June 29, 2008

Grade level : 8-12

Time Frame : 4-5 hours in class, approximately 5-15 minutes will be spent meeting with each child individually for goal planning (see below).

Number of Students : 20


The goal of this lesson is to enhance student understanding of Abraham Lincoln's life, the important events that led him to the White House, the details of the 1860 election, his presidency, and assassination. Students will consider the mythic dimensions of Lincoln's legacy and analyze the basis for these perceptions.


1. Excerpts from Lincolnby David Donald

2. Photographs obtained from site visits with narration presented in a power point format.

3. Internet access to Library of Congress sites/printer

4. Other materials as student projects dictate

Plan :

Two hours of class time will be used to present a historic overview of President Lincoln from his birth in a log cabin in Kentucky to his assassination at Ford Theater at the height of his political success. Discussion of the Electoral College and its role in electing a president will be a sub focus. Consideration of Lincoln as mythic hero will be introduced.

Students will be then divided into small groups of 2 or 3 and assigned one of the following topics (easier topics will be assigned to younger students): Lincoln's Early Life ->New Salem, Lincoln in Springfield (home life, legal and political career), The Campaign of 1960 , The White House Years, The Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln's Assassination, The Lincoln Legacy as an American Hero.

Students will, at home, work together to prepare a 5 to 10 minute presentation for the class relating to their specific topic. Requirements for their project will include:

1. Presentation of the topic in a clear, concise, and entertaining way with visuals (power point, film (they may use an interview format where a newscaster interviews Lincoln, a skit, or other creative idea that is acceptable to the instructor), or live performance - they may write an original skit, but it must be historically accurate.) Historically appropriate music is an option.

2. Each student must locate at least three primary source documents to support the factual information presented in the presentation. One must be a map. The material obtained from these documents must be used in their presentation. (Students will be provided with websites from which to obtain the documents)

3. Individually, each student must submit one of the following options: an essay on the assigned topic (essay topics can be of individual choice, but must be 'cleared' by instructor), a trifold brochure describing the events that occurred during their assigned time period, a graphic novel of the topic, or an organized audio recording - essay format of the topic (I have 2 students with disgraphia). All submissions must contain citations used in all components of the presentation.

Students will reconvene after completion of the above projects and two to three class hours will be used for "live" student presentations (in chronological order); parents invited to attend*. After each presentation there will be a question and answer period.


1. Students and parents, serving as the "audience" will assess student performance on a 1-5 scale on the following criteria:

i. Accuracy & relevance: was the information presented accurate and relevant to the topic assigned?

ii. Clarity of Presentation: (was the presentation clear, concise, understandable? Did the presenters make eye contact, speak clearly?)

iii. Quality and appropriateness of visuals/props: (did they add to the presentation, relevance to topic, historically accurate?)

iv. Appropriate use of primary documents (relevance, interpretation, integration)

v . Overall effectiveness of the presentation (did you, as a member of the audience, learn something new? Did the presenters answer all of your questions about the topic? Do you feel that the presenters were well prepared?)

2. Individual student submissions will be evaluated based upon a variety of student specific criteria depending on age, previous work, individual goals, and content. In a multiage classroom with a wide range of student abilities, submitted presentations are not given a traditional grade; rather they are used to provide the student with constructive feedback on both their oral and written performance. Individual goals are established, based upon individual performance, and these serve as the "grading" criteria for the next topic of study. The instructor meets one on one with each student (and with parent if indicated) to assess individual goals and progress. The ultimate goal is, of course, for each student to improve over time, and develop a variety of skills that will enable the student to develop competence in analysis, oral and written expression, research skills, a love of learning and a very positive feeling about what each has accomplished. Students also learn how to give constructive criticism to each other, support other members of their "team" and class, and work cooperatively.

A note : This lesson plan does not follow a traditional style. Our philosophy as parent educators is to encourage our students to explore a topic in depth and to follow their individual interests within a more general framework. While we don't specifically adhere to national or state standards, the vast majority of these standards are met. We focus on the individual needs of each student, allowing the student, parent and teacher together to participate in designing an individual student's goals.

* This is a group of home schooled students; parents are generally invited to participate in these sessions.

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